Double-murderer Edward Downey must serve a minimum 50 years behind bars for the slayings of a Calgary mom and her young daughter, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Justice Beth Hughes agreed with Crown prosecutor Carla MacPhail that Downey’s conduct called for consecutive periods of parole ineligibility on two counts of first-degree murder.
Downey, 49, was convicted by a jury last December of strangling Sara Baillie and her five-year-old daughter Taliyah Marsman.
”Mr. Downey experienced no remorse after killing Ms. Baillie and then, a number of hours later, a five-year-old defenceless child,” Hughes said.
”I find that rehabilitation has little weight in any determination of parole ineligibility has in light of Mr. Downey’s present age, his continuing criminal activity prior to the murders and my characterization of him as a callous and remorseless individual.”
Downey murdered Baillie in her northwest Calgary home on June 11, 2016, for interfering with his relationship with his girlfriend and then kidnapped and murdered Taliyah to silence her as a witness.
Downey has ties to Nova Scotia, according to court records.
Motor vehicle charges from the 1980s and 1990s under the name Edward Simmonds and Delten Simmonds, which Downey also used, seemed to indicate he lived in the province then, according to The Canadian Press.
Taliyah's father attended Queen Elizabeth High School in Halifax, CP said. In an interview with CTV News in 2016 before finding out his daughter had been murdered, Colin Marsman said he didn't know Downey.
Hughes said there were multiple aggravating factors warranting consecutive periods of parole ineligibility on Downey’s automatic life sentence and only one mitigating one, the fact he continues to have support of his family.
Among the aggravating one was the fact Taliyah knew Downey as a family friend.
“Taliyah was taken from her home by a person who she should have been able to trust,” Hughes said.
“Here, due to Taliyah’s age, denunciation and deterrence are the primary objects of sentencing Mr. Downey,” she said.
Hughes rejected arguments by defence lawyers Gavin Wolch and Meryl Friedland that the murders occurred as part of a single crime and should not involve consecutive periods of parole ineligibility.
“I find that the murder of Taliyah was a distinct and separate event from the murder of her mother,” said the judge. “While the events that led to the death of Ms. Baillie culminated in the death of Taliyah, Mr. Downey had time to consider what actions he would take after he kidnapped Taliyah from her home.”
She noted Downey spent several hours with the child deciding what to do with her.
“Ultimately, he decided to murder Taliyah.”
After killing Baillie and stuffing her, bound with duct tape, into a clothing hamper in her daughter’s bedroom, Downey took her daughter from the home.
“The gravity of the offence, Mr. Downey’s moral blameworthiness and his degree of responsibility are at the highest level,” Hughes said.
“Mr. Downey planned and deliberated upon her murder for some hours before he killed her. By murdering Taliyah, Mr. Downey killed the sole witness to her mother’s murder.
“His text conversations after dumping Taliyah’s body outside of the city reveal a callous and remorseless individual.”
Sara Baillie’s uncle, Scott Hamilton, said it was a long journey for the family to endure to see justice done.
“It’s been a long time to finally have the trial and sentencing completed for all the family members,” he said.
“Sara and Taliyah are always in our thoughts, we miss them dearly.”
Downey, who was 46 at the time of his arrest, can apply for full parole when he is 96 years old.
On Twitter: @KMartinCourts
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With files from SaltWire Network